String of 7 consecutive titles snapped
STAR JOURNAL REPORT
The Rhinelander High School girls tennis team’s quest for an eighth consecutive Great Northern Conference title came up short Saturday when the Hodags finished runner-up to Antigo at Saturday’s conference meet hosted by the Red Robins.
“We were disappointed we didn’t make a stronger run at Antigo, but we’ve got to hand it to Antigo,” said RHS head coach Bob Heideman. “They have no weak positions, they are strong top to bottom and despite it being their Homecoming and an 88-degree day, they also played well – just well enough to keep us at arm’s length.
“It came down to the last matches of the day and we were playing Antigo at four positions. We needed to win at all of them but fell a little short.”
The Hodags, who trailed the Red Robins by four points in the score for dual meet matches (124-120) going into the conference tournament, dropped behind the top spot by three more points Saturday with Antigo ending up with the top tournament score of 35, followed by RHS (32), Medford (20), Lakeland (10) Columbus Catholic (6) and Phillips (2). That gave Antigo 159 total conference points with RHS in second at 152 and Medford a distant third with 100.
Of the four singles divisions, the Hodags placed first in two of them and runner-up in the other two that were won by the Red Robins.
RHS’s Emma Roberts won the No. 3 title over Antigo’s Ellie Kelly and the Hodags’ Kenedy Van Zile defeated the Red Robins’ Avery Nicholson to place first in No. 4 singles.
“It took Kenedy about half a set to find a strategy that worked and she stuck with it…,” Heideman said. “In the heat Emma moved Kelly around the court. As the match wore on it added up.”
Antigo’s Maya Gaedtke topped RHS’s Belinda Weddle in No. 1 singles. The Red Robins’ Izzy Matuszewski defeated the Hodags’ Alex Oestreich in No. 2 singles.
RHS also topped one of the three doubles divisions at the conference tournament with Madi Losch and Alexis Pyrchalla placing first in No. 2 doubles.
“They went 3 -0 for the day, beating two teams that had beat them four times during the season,” Heideman said. “Madi and Alexis had some faith. They made plenty of mistakes, but remained positive, which helped get them through when they were down score-wise.”
The Hodags’ two other doubles pairs, Haley Seefeldt and Livi Roberts (No. 1) and Jackie Wells and Savannah Chartier (No. 3), both ended up in third place. The Red Robins’ Taylor Arrowood and Abby Robrecht (No. 1) and Samantha Belling and Jenna Lenzner (No. 3) placed first in their respective doubles divisions.
RHS’s final scheduled regular-season match Tuesday against D.C. Everest was rained out. The Hodags compete Oct. 2 in the WIAA Division 1 Sub-Sectional at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln.